Christianity 201

October 14, 2017

A Focused Mind vs. An Idle Mind

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:31 pm
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The title the author gave this piece was very practical and very specific. It’s not the usual type of devotional I choose here.

But the 2nd and 3rd paragraph were absolute gold! The difference between David as a teenager who was supremely confident and focused, as opposed to later in life when he is basically taking days off work to do nothing.

So again, if the title below doesn’t connect with you, read the piece anyway and notice the distinction in the introduction. The blog is MuyiwaWrites by Muyiwa Omosa and like other writers, the use of lower-case “i” is not a typo. Click the title below to read at source.

How Idle Moments May Be Feeding Your Porn Addiction

I can’t remember what led me to this part of the Bible, but i think i was curious to understand what made David so confident against Goliath? I wasn’t interested in just reading the verses that spoke about the fight, i wanted to understand the process. What made him this bold?

One of the verses that has still struck me to this day is in 1 Samuel 17:26. Goliath had come out to taunt the people of Israel yet again, and David who was should have been terrified as a teenager was busy negotiating the reward for killing this giant, even before the fight “David asked the soldiers standing nearby, what will a man get for killing this Philistine and ending his defiance of Israel?…”

It’s the equivalent of going for a job interview with a multinational company when you didn’t even finish high school, but instead of trying to sell yourself you are more interested in the benefits the job has to offer…it just blows my mind every time i read this.

Anyway, 1 Samuel was so interesting, i couldn’t stop so i continued on into 2 Samuel and came across this verse in chapter 11:1-2

(S)cripture: “In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight the Ammonites. They destroyed the Ammonite army and laid siege to the city of Rabbah. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. Late one afternoon, after his midday rest, David got out of bed and was walking on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath

(O)bservations: The first thing i noticed was “when kings normally go out to war”. David was supposed to be at war with the army but chose to stay behind. A lot can happen when you are supposed to be somewhere but choose to be somewhere else.

When you don’t occupy your mind, you leave an open door for the enemy to fill that void. I believe this is how a lot of people get involved in porn addictions, drug abuse and so on.

David was walking on the roof when he should have been walking on the battle ground, he saw a naked woman taking a bath, when he should have been seeing strategies to defeat the enemy. This moment of idleness would eventually spiral into a series of unfortunate events that led to murder and so much more.

Imagine that, one moment of idleness led to murder…one moment of idleness led to impregnating another mans wife. The idle mind really is the devils workshop.

(A)pplication: A popular quote that i heard recently says “People find themselves in prisons, because they didn’t plan to be somewhere else”

Having a vision for my life has automatically defined the decisions i can make because i have already unconsciously defined the consequences of my actions way ahead of time.

For example, one of my goals in life is to heal other marriages through mine…i want my marriage to show the world that it can work if it is done God’s way. That image i have in my heart keeps me disciplined…that image would never be realised if i were to get involved in a scandal. It is very necessary to have a plan for your life…i wrote about some practical steps i took in painting this picture

Whatever you focus on, expands. Every morning when i wake up, i meditate…i look at my goals and read them out loud, i study the Bible so that my mind has something to chew on for the rest of the day.

I usually create a to-do list the night before so that my activities for the day are already set out to eliminate any idle moments as much as possible.

(P)rayer: Heavenly Father, i just ask for more hunger for You. The more i know You, the less idle i become. How can i even be idle when you are everywhere for me to see? When i look up in the skies You are right there, the car i drive came from the ground you made. Open my eyes to see you in everything i do. In Jesus Name!!! AMEN

February 7, 2015

Whatsoever Things are Not ______________

NLT Phil 4:8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

KJV Phil 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

I’m currently reading a forthcoming book by David Murray titled The Happy Christian: Ten Ways to Be a Joyful Christian in a Gloomy World. In the second chapter he takes the familiar scripture above, and turns it on his head by looking at the opposite of the things named in the verse…

Happy Christian…our educational, political, and business culture rewards negativity experts, those who can pick out a single negative in a sea of positives.

We ask our children, “What’s wrong with this picture?” We set class assignments, “Critique this passage,” or “Find the flaws in this article.” We mark mistakes with red ink but don’t waste blue ink on the correct answers. We scan our garden for weeds. We admire politicians and debaters who can punch holes in their opponents’ arguments. We promote lawyers who can detect a loophole from a hundred miles away. We love journalists exposés. We are drawn to watchdogs and discernment ministries. We honor theologians who can destroy a heretic with one devastating put down.” (p. 25)

It’s into that environment that Murray offers a response. To do justice to this would mean excerpting the entire chapter, but I want to share his outline in this chapter. The first section that he calls “Media Diet” simply looks at the opposite of each of the things named in Phil. 4:8. (Eugene Peterson is on the same track with the translation of this verse in The Message.) The second section, he calls “Ministry Diet” and follows the same pattern.

Media Diet

  • True, Not False:”Whatever things are true”
  • Noble, Not Base: “Whatever things are noble”
  • Right, Not Wrong: “Whatever things are just”
  • Purity, Not Filth: “Whatever things are pure”
  • Beautiful, Not Ugly: “Whatever things are lovely”
  • Praise, Not Complaint: “Whatever things are of good report”

Ministry Diet

  • More Salvation Than Sin
  • More Truth Than Falsehood
  • More Wooing Than Warning
  • More Victory Than Struggle
  • More Celebration Than Lamentation
  • More Life Than Death
  • More Strengths Than Weaknesses

I hope that outline leaves you wanting to read the book, which releases February 24th in paperback from Thomas Nelson. You can do a similar study by looking at I Cor 13, what we call the love chapter, and from each of the things listed, you can compose a picture of “love’s opposite.” If I were to combine these together and incorporate it into your character not to manifest each of these negative traits, I would certainly be a much better person; and so would you.

 

September 20, 2013

Your Soul Will Be Doubly Unbright

Luke 11 23

Luke 11:34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy,your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy,  your body also is full of darkness. 35 See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. 36 Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

Although the original writers were not Christians, I do so much appreciate the musical Godspell because despite some glaring liberties, much of it stays true to the Bible text.  In a song, “Learn Your Lessons Well,” there is a spoken portion that uses an adaptation of the text above from Luke 11, which is paralleled in Matthew 6: 21-23.

In an updated Broadway cast recording of the song posted on YouTube, this formerly spoken word passage was set to music. It almost doesn’t fit the rest of the song, it is so hauntingly beautiful; the section runs from 1:16 to 2:24. (I’d love to see this recorded as a separate entity.)

the lamp of the body is the eye,
if your eye is bad
your whole body will be darkness
and if darkness is all around
your soul will be doubly unbright
but if your eye is sound
your whole body will be filled with light
your whole body will be filled with light
your whole body will be filled with light

Sitting at a computer — where else? — as I type this, the temptation to look at the internet’s dark side is always there.  However, keeping this little song snippet in my mind has served on many occasions to prevent me from going down that road.  And the phrase “doubly unbright” while grammatically questionable, has a way of sticking in your head.

California pastor Shane Idleman at Westside Christian Fellowship writes on this passage in an article titled Overcoming Sin…The Battlefield is the Mind:

The enemy rarely pushes us off the cliff, so to speak. We’re often led down one step at a time, one compromise at a time, one wrong choice at a time. For example, the enemy doesn’t show a young couple the pain and anguish and the years of regret that an abortion brings; he deceives them with the temporary enjoyment of premarital sex and a false sense of freedom from responsibility. If the full story was known beforehand, no doubt different choices might have been made. We’re often not shown the pain that sin brings, we’re enticed by the temporary pleasure.

Galatians 5:17 says that the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what our sinful nature desires, and that these two forces are constantly fighting against each other. As a result, our choices are rarely free from this conflict. In other words, our sinful nature and our new nature in Christ are constantly at war. Don’t be alarmed. The fact that there is a fight confirms the value of our commitment.

A paraphrase of, The Battle Within, illustrates this truth: “A young man, determined to find help for his troubled life, walked to a neighboring church. He told the pastor that his life was meaningless and in constant turmoil. He wanted to make better choices, but couldn’t.

He described the conflict: “It’s as if I have two dogs constantly battling within me. One dog is evil, while the other is good. The battles are long and difficult; they drain me emotionally and mentally.” Without a moment’s thought, the pastor asked, “Which dog wins the battles?” Hesitantly, the young man admitted, “The evil dog.” The pastor looked at him and said, “That’s the one you feed the most. You need to starve that dog to death!”

The pastor realized, as should we, that the source of our strength comes from the food that we choose. What we feed grows, and what grows becomes the dominating force within our lives. Sin never stands still—it either grows or withers depending on whether you feed or starve it.

Which dog wins the battle in your mind? Proverbs 23:7 says, “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” And Jesus said that the lamp of the body is the eye. When your eye is good your body will be full of light. When your eye is bad your body will be full of darkness. (Refer to Luke 11:34.) Our thoughts become words, our words become actions, our actions become habits. Who is shaping your thoughts? A daily diet of violence, lust, anger, and depression will fuel those very things in your life.

One of the reasons why men and women struggle with lust or anger is because they feed those emotions continually throughout the day. It’s difficult to avoid illicit sex and outbursts of anger while continually watching movies and TV programs that promote them. As a matter of fact, many cases of sexual violence can be traced directly back to pornography. What we embrace eventually embraces us. “The more we follow that which is good, the faster and the further we shall flee from that which is evil” (Matthew Henry).

Some may say that being cautious with what we view and listen to borders on legalism (e.g., performance-based religion). Although it can when taken to extremes, I disagree. Entertainment is not merely entertainment; depending on how it’s used, it can be a very destructive influence. The Bible reveals that the devil is the prince of this world (Ephesians 2:2); therefore, you should pay close attention to what you watch and listen to—the force controlling it ultimately controls you. Romans 8:6 says that if our sinful nature controls our mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls our mind, there is life and peace. With God’s help, you’ll begin to control your thoughts instead of allowing your thoughts to control you.

For those who are skeptical about the media’s influence, consider why companies spend millions of dollars on commercials. They obviously understand the concept of “suggestive selling.

In the end, the choice is yours when it comes to what you watch and listen to, but why would you willingly walk into the enemy’s camp? Why would you feed wrong desires and thoughts when they do nothing but war against the soul.

If you’re questioning God’s existence, experiencing violent bursts of anger, struggling with addiction or lust, or continually feeling depressed or discouraged, evaluate your diet of television, movies, the Internet, music, friends, and your thoughts in general. Are they lifting you up, or pulling you down? There is no middle ground—you’re being influenced one way or the other. Are there any changes that need to be made in your life? If so, this is where you start to win the battle within.

Related:

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September 3, 2013

Trusting God in a World of Fears

In the hunt for great devotional and Bible study content, today we introduce a new writer, David Rupert who blogs at Red Letter Believers.  This appeared recently under the title, How Real is your Fear of Failure?


There are at least two thousand known phobias. From Novercaphobia (fear of your step-mother) to Pogonophobia (fear of beards) to Syngenesophobia ( fear of relatives,) there’s a named fear for nearly everything in our lives.

fearfactor_240But for babies there are really only two measured fears – fear of falling and a fear of loud noises. Everything after that point is learned.

After a stint in my crawl space and another in the attic, I found my fear. Stenophobia, a fear of narrow places. Or perhaps it’s Claustrophobia – a fear of confined spaces. I don’t know where I got those fears, but they are real. I remember being locked in the trunk of my mom’s 69 Oldsmobile once, courtesy of a little brother who dared me to jump in. That might have had something to do with it.

I have a few other fears that pop up every once in a while, but the fear of failure is a biggie. And this is a terrible thing for a writer to have. “Will anyone read this. Will they like it? Will it make sense? Am I using the right voice? Am I using too many question marks?” Failure dogs every step of the writer’s life.

Our learned fears come from letting someone down at some point, of not living up to lofty expectations of a coach, a parent, or a teacher. It comes at the hand of imperfect man or woman living in a narrowly defined world of rules and regulations. It comes from letting myself down.

I could name off a half-dozen events in my life that seem to be markers in my mind – failures. The fence fell, the train came off the track, the cork blew, or whatever expression you want to use – I let others down. I disappointed God. I failed myself.

But Eric Parks, preaching on failure, said this. “You are not defined by your mistake – or series of mistakes. That’s not who you are in God’s eyes.” According to Eric — and God – the battle for failure is less about reality, and more about perception.

This is isn’t some feel good philosophy. It’s the truth. Satan loves to dig in and whisper in my ear, repeating the same tape in my brain of failures, disappointments, and bombs that I’ve lobbed into my life.

That’s why, every day, I have chance to start again. I have a chance to “be transformed by the renewing of my mind.”

Now, I won’t be a success at everything. I can’t slam dunk a basketball. I can’t start a fire quicker than Bear Gryliss. I can’t grow a Duck Dynasty Beard. But just because I can’t do something well – – or at all – doesn’t make me a failure.

What are you afraid of?

———

What He Said

Consider these verses:

Philippians 4:8 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

2 Corinthians 4:16 

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

Ephesians 4:23 

And to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

Philippians 4:6-7 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:2 

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

October 1, 2012

Living in a Christian World

KJV Ephesians 5:18 …be filled with the Spirit;  19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Phillips  Ephesians 5:18 l…let the Spirit stimulate your souls. Express your joy in singing among yourselves psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making music in your hearts for the ears of God!

NASB Phil. 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Message – Phil 4:8Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

The verses above usually receive a fairly specific application. The first, from Ephesians, has to do with allowing the Word of God (in a parallel Colossians passage) and the Spirit of God to overflow from your heart resulting in worship to God, in this case worship that is specifically musical; with the result that Christianity is essentially “a singing faith.”

The second verse from Philippians is usually used in reference to controlling our thought life; controlling what we allow to control us. Both verses have been referenced here at C201 in their primary contexts.

But today I want to think in terms of the everyday lives we live on Monday morning, after weekend services are over and we’re back to work, or school, or raising children. We spend at the very least an hour on Sunday in the “world of church” or “world of faith.” But many people walk out the door when the service ends and find themselves back in a culture situation that afford no opportunity for “psalms and hymns” and makes it hard to think about things which are “pure, lovely and of good repute.”

Their connection with Christian culture vanishes.

Those of us that blog, or work in vocational ministry at a local church or parachurch organization can be thought to represent one end of a continuum which has, at the other end, people who attend a church, but don’t allow the a Christian “seasoning” to permeate their lives throughout the week.

They possibly don’t read a daily devotional either; in print or online, so we’re not speaking to readers here necessarily.

Now having said that I can anticipate two objections.

The first is that we’re supposed to be “in the world” (though “not of it.”) This means that we’re not to spend our week living in the religious bubble or the Evangelical bubble. We’re expected to be out there getting our hands and feet dirty. Our time at worship before God is a type of retreat from the cares of the world, but then we return to the mission field where God has placed each of us.

The second objection would be that Christian culture, such as it exists, is somewhat flawed. ‘Christian’ is not an adjective that can be layered over music, books, radio, movies, web channels, restaurants, video games, etc. Reading Christian blogs — which I do a lot of — doesn’t make me more spiritual.

And yet, it bothers me that despite these valid objections, there are people who choose to almost abdicate from the world of faith for the other 167 hours of the week. They don’t have a preset for the local Christian radio station, they don’t take advantage of the resources available from online ministries, they don’t read any Christian books in the course of a year. Some don’t read their Bibles all week either; whatever reading is done in the worship service constitutes their only direct contact with the God’s Word throughout the week. (No pressure, pastors; right?)

Personally, I could survive a month on a deserted island with just my Bible, but in general, I need help. I am a better person in terms of my interactions with the world at large if I can approach those interactions with the flavor of faith. I need books to keep me thinking on things that are “true… honorable… right…” and I need music to keep me “singing and making melody to the Lord.”

I’m not trying to justify an industry, or several industries, or those industries’ excesses, but I’m saying that I do believe that at their genesis, there was a noble purpose of fanning the flames of faith; fanning the flames of what the Holy Spirit is already doing in our lives and wants to do.

And I’m concerned for people who are missing out on programs, resources, and opportunities that could greatly enhance their relationship with Jesus and their knowledge of God’s ways.

 

 

August 3, 2011

20 Indicators of your True Idols

Bogdan Kipko was born in Kazakhstan and now serves an assistant pastor in Orange, California, USA.  He blogged this list a week ago.

Before we can eliminate the idols in our life, we must first realize what (who) they are.

We all have idols. We are all idolaters to one degree or another. We all are in need of repentance and restoration. We all are in desperate need to undergo serious spiritual alignment so that our passions are proportionally directed at God and not at a god or gods.

So, how then do we discern what are our idols? How can we become increasingly clear-sighted rather than remaining in their power?

Here are twenty questions that we need to transparently answer in order for our idols to be revealed to us:

1.What do we fear the most?

2.What, if we lost it, would make life not worth living?

3.What controls our mood?

4.What do I respond to with explosive anger or deep despair? 

5.What dominates our relationships?

6.What do we dream about when our mind is on idle-mode?

7.To what do our thoughts effortlessly drift towards?    

8.What do we enjoy day-dreaming about?

9.What am I preoccupied with?

10. What is the first thing on my mind in the morning and the last thing on my mind at night?

11. Where or in whom do I put my trust?

12. What occupies my mind when we have nothing else to think about?

13. Do we day-dream about purchasing material goods that you (we) don’t need, with money you (we) don’t have to impress the people you (we) do not like?

14. What do you habitually, systematically and undoubtedly drift towards in order to obtain peace, joy and happiness in the privacy of your heart?

15. How do we spend our (God’s) money?  

  • Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there is your heart also” (Matt. 6:21).
  • Your money flows most effortlessly toward your heart’s greatest love. In fact, the mark of an idol is that you spend too much money on it, and you must try to exercise self-control constantly. Our patterns of spending reveal our idols. 

16. What is my real, daily functional savior?

17. What is my real – not my [professed] – god?

18. How do I respond to unanswered prayers?

19. When a certain desire is not met, do I feel frustration, anxiety, resentment, bitterness, anger, or depression?

20. Is there something I desire so much that I am willing to disappoint or hurt others in order to have it?

 When we ask ourselves these penetrating questions, there yields a continuity of our idolatry. The answers to these questions uncover the following:

  • Whether we serve God or idols
  • Whether we look for salvation from Christ or from false saviors
  • Whether we rely on our Deliverer or other pseudo-messiahs.   

In the next post, I want to talk about where within our being idols are conceived and what we can do to protect that place from idolatry inception.

Question: How else can you honestly assess your situation to ascertain your current idols?

Bogdan Kipko

There is a link above to a second article, and in a third one in this series, Bogdan discusses Six Antidotes for Idolatry.

July 1, 2011

When Your Mind’s On Other Things

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.  But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.   Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

James 1:5-8 (NLT)

The last sentence above, verse eight, is the one many of you know as “A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.

I often think of double-mindedness as meaning a person who is doing one thing one minute, and something quite different or contrary the next minute.  In other words alternating between two distinctly different purposes, such as we see in this verse:

Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

I King 18:21 (NIV)

But double-mindedness can also exist when we are actually wavering while we are on task.  I discovered years ago that I could be reading my kids a Bible story, and my lips were moving and I was saying all the right words, but I was thinking about something completely different; occasionally something not all that wholesome or encouraging.

I thought of this when I read the note someone had left with one of those confessionals where you write your comment on a postcard and mail it in, and then some are selected and posted.  Trust me, I don’t revisit this site anywhere  as often as I once did and especially since elsewhere I’ve commented how some seemingly innocuous things — like reading advice columns in the newspaper — can be a gateway to more problematic things. However, it does provide a window into the lives of many broken people.

The writer describing reading this website — and who knows what others — while sitting in the choir loft of a worship service is bad enough, but the parenthetic remark at the end suggests that sometimes the images constitute what we would call soft porn.  And so, there we are sitting in church, and we see the pastor and the choir is sitting there, and it never occurs to us that one of the choir members might be…  I mean, why would you want to sing in the choir if that’s where your mind is at?  Does the one activity somehow cancel out the other?

A more accurate scripture — not that the two already mentioned don’t apply — would be

  “These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
   but their hearts aren’t in it.
…[T]hey act like they’re worshiping me
   but don’t mean it…

Isaiah 29:13 (The Message)

Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me

Isaiah 29:13 (NKJV)

This verse is referenced by Jesus as well, and may be found at Matthew 15:8 and Mark 7:6. 

Because it’s possible to be spiritually multi-tasking; or multi-tasking on one thing that is outwardly pious or spiritual, but one other thing that is far from God, we need to guard ourselves from this letting this situation happen. When it does, we are guilty of the “spiritual acting” or hypocrisy that Jesus so often addressed, in fact the scripture actually takes this one step further:

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!

Revelation 3:15 (NLT)

Finally, I think it’s necessary for those of us who see someone committing an act of blatant hypocrisy to call them on it.  Someone was sitting next to that choir member and would have had occasion to glance at their mobile device; especially given that they would have to hold it a good distance away to avoid it being seen by the congregation. It’s a time for reaching out to help, not a time for condemnation.

If you see a Christian brother or sister sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life.

I John 5:16a NIV

~Paul Wilkinson

June 21, 2011

Thought Monitoring

Recovering alcoholics use the phrase “one day a time” as a reminder that progress, to be successful, has to take place on a daily level; and resultant sobriety is measured in weeks, months and finally annual celebrations.

When it comes to controlling our thought life however, our progress can rise or fall in minutes, or even within the seconds of a single minute.  However, as long as we understand that, we won’t be defeated when unwanted thoughts creep into our heads.  We can say, “Okay, my mind may have been going down the wrong path that past few seconds, but I can now get back track for the next few seconds.”

Falling asleep and waking up are probably the toughest times for me.  As in any professional sports match, I can be more effective when I run a good defense.  For myself, I find in those minutes I can slam dunk some of those thoughts simply by reciting the phrases of the Lord’s Prayer. 

Of course, in the morning, simply getting up and starting the day a few minutes earlier also solves the problem.  I remember Larry Tomczak saying years ago that “most Christians are defeated between the bed and the breakfast table.” 

So if the AA program can claim the phrase, “one day a time;” I propose that we appropriate the phrase, “minute by minute.” 

II Cor 10:5 in the KJV contains the phrase, “Bringing every thought into captivity.”  Here’s how the NLT renders that passage:

 3 We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. 4 We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 5 We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 6 And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone who remains disobedient.

In verse 5 Paul personifies our thoughts and writes that we teach our thoughts to obey Christ. In The Message read how Eugene Peterson looks at this:

3-6The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.

Note the phrase, “fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.”  Yes, there are going to be “loose thoughts,” but we redirect them. 

Last year I wrote on this subject for three consecutive days, and if you want to continue reading here are the links on this vital topic:

We can also help each other by praying for specific people God brings to mind and asking for His help for them to keep their thought life focused on things that are pure, lovely, praiseworthy, containing good news and virtuous.  You pray for me, and I will pray for you.

~Paul Wilkinson

May 19, 2010

Capturing Every Thought

This is the third of a series of three posts on the subject of our thought life.   It’s time to take prisoners.   This is something I’ve been working hard to put into practice — even more diligently in the last 48 hours or so — but it takes a great deal of discipline.

First we’ll start with 2 Cor 10:5 in the King James version of the Bible:

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ

The NLT paints a different picture:

With these weapons we break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God. With these weapons we conquer their rebellious ideas, and we teach them to obey Christ.

The KJV (and the NASB) envisions thoughts being rounded up and taken captive — possibly appropriate language to the time of writing — while the NLT (and the NIV) talks about teaching “them” to obey Christ.   Who or what is “them?”   It could be “people kept from knowing God,” but it seems to be “their rebellious ideas;” it’s their ideas that are being “taught,” this is reinforced by the NLT of verse four (the preceding verse) which talks about “the Devil’s strongholds.”

The Message Bible breaks out into similar, but different language:

We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.

The danger here is losing ourselves in the word pictures and missing the bigger point:  It is incumbent on us to guard our thoughts, our hearts, our minds.   We have to do this by being gatekeepers of what we will allow to come in; and as gatekeepers we have to never be asleep at our post.